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Posted at 8:27 AM ET, 01/20/2011

Maryland-Virginia Tech, which team needs to win more?

By Eric Prisbell

The truth about tonight's big game at Comcast Center: Both Maryland and Virginia Tech need a so-called quality victory in the worst way. Neither will get it tonight.

Two good teams will take the court tonight. But these are two teams hampered by limitations on the court and flawed NCAA tournament resumes. Virginia Tech (11-5, 2-2 ACC) is 78th in the RPI. Maryland (11-6, 1-2) is 87th. Both need strong runs the next two months if they want to avoid the NIT.

Injury and illness left Coach Seth Greenberg with a different roster than the one he had anticipated coaching in Blacksburg. After entering the season amid predictions they would finish second in the ACC, the Hokies are down to eight scholarship players and are in only slightly better position than the Terrapins.

Virginia Tech is 1-3 against the RPI's top 50, the lone victory against Oklahoma State (RPI: 36) on Nov. 26. The Hokies squandered opportunities to claim victories over Purdue and North Carolina, both of which earned three-point victories over Virginia Tech. The Hokies also have a black eye: a three-point loss to Virginia (127) on Dec. 5.

As for the Terrapins, they have one of the nation's best big men in Jordan Williams and promising young guards. But they struggle to consistently make free throws and three-point shots. They rank 313th nationally in free throw percentage (62.7) and 318th in three-pointers per game.

Their resume is devoid of a bad loss or a quality victory. Maryland has lost all of its games against the RPI's top 37, all games decided by single digits. The Terrapins have a significant problem, however: A 2-6 record against the RPI's top 100. The only victories came against Charleston and Penn State, although the Penn State win looks better now than it did in early December. Another problem: Maryland will only play four top 50 teams -- Duke, Boston College, Miami and North Carolina -- the rest of the regular season because of the weakness of this season's ACC. (Florida State may climb into the top 50 by season's end.)

This is not an elimination game by any means. But because of the state of this season's ACC, which is ranked as the nation's fifth-best conference in terms of RPI, the loser will face a much steeper road to the NCAA tournament. It is going to take nine or 10 ACC victories to have a reasonable chance at an at-large bid.

By Eric Prisbell  | January 20, 2011; 8:27 AM ET
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Gotta love the old home-team vote poll.

Posted by: Matte | January 20, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

A second home loss at this stage will be devastating.

Posted by: petecard | January 20, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Terps still have a good shot to finish in the top 3 or 4 in the ACC. See what happens tonight and go from there.

Posted by: scrappledog | January 20, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Prisbell you know I love ya but you're crazy if you think a win tonight won't be considered a "quality win" come March. Both of these teams will finish in the upper echelon of the ACC, so a win tonight for either team will be considered a quality win when it counts: selection sunday.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 20, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Once again Eric, we're not even into February and already you're hyping the significance of a single game. Earth to Eric: Selection Sunday is still a long way off.

While neither team can afford a loss, it can also be said that an accumulation of losses by either team by the first of March renders a so called "pivotal" game just one single nail in the coffin of its' season, unless one of those teams gets hot at ACC tournament time and either makes it to the championship game, or runs the table.

And it isn't just these two teams winning games that is important for their post season chances. The entire ACC (maybe minus Duke) needs to step up its play against outside opponents to raise the currently poor perception of the conference, and allow teams within the conference who have winning records to have a better shot at making the NCAAs as at large teams.

Posted by: MillPond2 | January 20, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse

This will be a great win for Virginia Tech.

It will be considered one of their "quality" wins.

Posted by: Benson | January 20, 2011 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Terps playing at home against VaTech and Clemson on Saturday. I think this team needs both wins for their confidence, and with these 2 wins their NCAA chances will be much improved. Even 1-1 leaves their NCAA chance diminished.

Posted by: Redtopper2 | January 20, 2011 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I don't care who wins, as long as Tech loses. Go back to the Big East.

Posted by: Jayne | January 20, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

There is zero question about it.

VaTech needs this game more.

Posted by: Benson | January 20, 2011 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, what does it matter?

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | January 20, 2011 9:02 PM | Report abuse

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